The European Coral Reef Symposium (ECRS) in Oxford in December, 2017 provided an ideal opportunity to promote IYOR 2018. 550 people from 33 countries attended ECRS, including a large number of students, as well as academics and conservationists. Thanks to support from the Government of Sweden, IYOR branded memory sticks were included in the conference packs and IYOR pins and postcards were distributed during the Symposium.
With the support of Reef Conservation UK (RCUK), the symposium organisers and hosts, and the International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS), a lunch time event was organised on the first day and was attended by some 50-60 people. Sue Wells (Chair of the ISRS Conservation Committee) introduced IYOR 2018 and explained the key messages. Dr Heather Koldewey (ZSL) and Dr Dominic Andradi-Brown (University of Oxford) spoke on behalf of RCUK, which was a founder organisation for the first IYOR in 1997. Dr Rupert Ormond (Honorary Secretary, ISRS) and Jessica Bellworthy (Bar Ilan University and the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences, Eilat) spoke about the plans that ISRS has for 2018, with particular reference to the role that student members of the Society will be playing. Dr Elizabeth Wood introduced the briefing on the impact of sunscreens on coral reefs that has been prepared for ICRI as a contribution to IYOR 2018.
Dr Goetz Reinicke (German Oceanographic Museum) spoke about Germany’s involvement in the two previous IYORs and plans for 2018. Dr Melanie McField (Healthy Reefs for Healthy People, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History) described some of the contributions that Belize will be making to IYOR 2018. Finally Dr Charles Sheppard (University of Warwick) spoke about the urgent need for effective communication during IYOR 2018 and the role of journalists and the media. The event ended with a screening of the film Voices from the Reef, produced by IUCN-The World Conservation Union and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which summarises the crisis facing reefs today and the urgent action that is needed, using the Great Barrier Reef as an example.
IYOR 2018 was also announced and toasted during the welcome reception in the Oxford Natural History Museum, which was attended by all ECRS participants and invited guests, providing an opportunity to draw the attention of all those at the symposium to this important global initiative.